The old fundraising adage holds the first $150,000 is the easy part.
A fundraising campaign to build an “Honor Walk” on the bluff overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at Veterans Memorial Park on Beacon Hill is halfway to its goal.
Pledging to seek $300,000, the campaign, which began shortly after the dawn of the year, has reached $150,000, said Rodney Herring, a member of the committee charged with shepherding the project.
“I’m amazed we’ve come this far this soon” Herring said last weekend during the annual meeting of the Coastal Community Association of Gulf County.
And Herring picked up a couple of checks at the meeting; the Port St. Joe Chapter of the DAR provided a check for $1,000 and the CCA one for $1,250.
The DAR’s effort also continued, offering a free cookbook in exchange for $10 donation.
“We should all be (walking) up to veterans, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service,” said local DAR Regent Sherrill Russ.
The “Honor Walk” is intended as a county’s figurative handshake and tribute.
The project would fill an 80-foot-by-140-foot area along the park’s bluff, which offers some of the finest views of the ocean in the county.
The Board of County Commissioners broke ground on the project in May.
The BOCC approved the tentative plans for the “Honor Walk” last summer and established a citizens committee to spearhead finalizing the plans and raising funds.
The walk would be anchored by an American flag on a pole of 70 feet within a pentagon, the American flag surrounded by flag poles and flags honoring the branches of the military.
“The flagpole in front of Duren’s Piggly Wiggly is 55 feet so that will give you an idea of the size of the central flag pole.” Herring said.
The BOCC, as its contribution to the project, decided to expend Tourist Development Council bed taxes on the flag poles.
At each point of the pentagon around the American flag, five 8-foot-by-3-foot monuments for each branch of the military would be crafted, each inscribed with the Gulf County veterans who “paid the ultimate sacrifice,” in battle.
There will be seating behind the flags and several areas for quiet reflection and brick and concrete walkways thread through the memorial.
The entire area would be surrounded by a 4-foot high fence with pillars spaced along the length of the fence.
Walkways will extend 20 feet from the center of a monument in opposite directions.
Commemorative paver bricks purchased for the walkways, inside the center circle of the memorial and along both outer circles, will be engraved in the honor of or in memory of individual veterans.
Herring emphasized last Saturday that in the case of the pavers, the honorarium was not reserved solely for veterans.
Regardless, Herring said, the project is to honor all veterans, all who answered a country’s call; not only a local memorial to veterans, but a regional tribute.
“The Honor Walk will complete the recognition of veterans in this park, recognition which is well-deserved,” said George Duren, another member of the project committee.
“This will help remind everyone our freedoms have been willingly paid by our veterans. “We want people to drive by on (U.S. 98) and look up and say Gulf County respects it veterans. Our veterans deserve to be recognized.”
The conceptual schematics were drafted by Dewberry|Preble Rish to allow the committee to pursue available grants to fund the work of creating the memorial.
There are several fundraiser options available and all donations are tax-deductible. To learn more go to: http://www.VeteransParkHonorWalk.org.